Wednesday, May 28, 2014

prayers for nell

I enjoy blogging, but there are times when I simply can't do it.  This is one of those times.  If you follow me on Facebook, then you might already be aware of what is going on.  If not, the only thing I will write here is that a good friend's daughter is fighting for her life.  I don't really want to post much on the blog, so if you want to know more, go here.  At this time, all I ask is for your prayers for sweet Nell, her family and friends, and all the doctors who care for her every day. 

I will eventually be back, but if you need anything before then please email me at

Monday, May 19, 2014

baby dolls and baby pants

After one of the blog readers posted her adorable American Girl version of the Izzy Top (thanks Becky!) I realized I should just go ahead and create a digital pattern for everyone.  My first attempt turned out just a bit small, so I'll try again tomorrow and see if I can make something that doesn't require squeezing the stuffing out of the doll in order to get it snapped :)

And while I had baby dolls on the brain, I drafted a newborn size pants pattern for my girls' newborn size dolls.  And then it turned out so cute in the newborn size (although what isn't cute when it's that little!) I graded the pattern up to a 24 months and made a pair for Mae.  Once I put together the directions for the tutorial I'm hoping there are a few moms, grandmas, aunts etc. who might be able to test the pattern for me.  It will be free for everyone, but I like to make sure that it fits first.

I haven't been doing much sewing lately, and I'm sure I won't do much for most of the summer, but I hope to release both the Nell pattern and the baby pants pattern in the next month or so before I take some time off from blogging to spend the summer with my kids :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

nell top: take two

I did mange to get some sewing time last night, so I whipped up another Nell top, this one with short sleeves.  I like this one even more than the first!  The fit is just about right, and although there are still a couple of minor things I want to change, I feel like it's exactly the look I was aiming for :)

Next I think I need to make the changes across all the sizes (18 months - 12) and then test out a bigger size on Gracie just to make sure it's graded properly.  Then comes the real fun - writing the instructions!  Honestly, I could sit and grade patterns all day long as long as I never need to do any actual writing.  I was one of those people who did great in math right up until Geometry when they made me prove my answers were correct.  For some reason "I don't know how I know it, I just do" was never the right answer :)  I find that trying to explain how to sew a pattern feels about the same.  I tend to skip steps because I know what comes next and I forget that other people may not.  But I guess that's what proofreaders and testers are for ... to catch anything I may miss, which I'm sure will be plenty :)

I just love this picture of the back of the top - all because of Mae's little pigtails!  I'm not really a fan of the two-year-old attitude (although it's even less cute in my 15-year-old son!) but I'm sure going to miss all the sweet, innocent and quirky moments of this particular two year old.  I somehow doubt that when she's 15 she will let me dress her up, do her hair and take pictures :)  And if she does, there will probably be a boy involved, and I certainly don't approve of that!

When I looked at this last picture I realized I really need to go dig out my middle son's baby pictures.  And I literally mean dig them out since they were pre-digital and are probably buried under piles and piles of miscellaneous pictures.  But anyway, I'm pretty sure if you ignore the pigtails, Mae and Thomas could be twins :)  Of course, most of my extended family can't even tell my boys apart, so it's possible that all my kids look a whole lot alike!

Lightweight Cotton Twill Print
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Monday, May 12, 2014

the creative process ... how chaos motivates me

I know a few people that amaze me because everything they do seems to come out perfect.  A perfectly decorated house here, a perfectly well thought out teacher's gift there, and on ... and on ... and on!  While I, on the other land, live in a house that resembles the typical "before" picture in any magazine (sometimes I'm envious of the before picture!) and I am also the mom who hands the teachers their gift cards on the last day having totally missed the party the day before when everyone else gave the teachers their gifts :)  Oh, who am I kidding, most of the time I just shove the gift cards in my kids' backpacks and tell them not to forget to give them to their teachers.  And that doesn't seem to work very well, since just last week I was cleaning out a laundry basket full of donations, and there on the bottom were the gift cards from Christmas that were supposed to go to my 2nd grader's teachers :)  Of course, being the person I am, I will just give them to the teachers when I go volunteer this week.  They're moms too, so I'm sure they will understand :)  And if not, this is the forth year they have had one of my kids in their class, so I'm pretty sure they know me by now!

So, you have to be asking yourself by now what this has to do with the creative process, and I promise I will get around to that.  I am not an organized person by nature.  I would love to be, but I don't really want to put the effort into maintaining it, and to be honest, I don't have a problem being surrounded by chaos, so there's not much motivation to get organized in the first place.  I am also a big time procrastinator.  I had a professor in college who said you can't wait until the last minute to do the term paper because he would know just by reading the paper.  I took that as a personal challenge :)  I'm not sure what kind of warped kid my parents raised, but I know I'm being paid back for it since my oldest son lives by the same motto that I do - "I'm a perfectionist with a procrastinator complex - some day I'm going to be awesome!"

So what, so I'm an unorganized procrastinator.  What does this have to do with creativity?  I'm not really sure what the science is behind it, but I do know that many creative people tend to have similar traits.  Of course, so do many lazy people, but that's a whole new subject for a different day :)  Bear with me for a minute here while I try to explain my thoughts a bit better for the organized, get-everything-done-ahead-of-time kind of people who may be reading this.  When I sit in a clean, empty room I feel calm and at peace, but I also have no desire to actually do anything.  It's like I'm too calm to get motivated enough to accomplish anything and that there is really nothing that needs my immediate attention, so I can go ahead and relax instead.  But when I'm in my busy, complicated house (and life!) I feel like I actually draw energy from the chaos that surrounds me.  It's as if the sheer number of things I need to do triggers some response that says I've procrastinated long enough and now I need to get moving :)  And when creativity competes with "I really need to fold the elephant sized pile of laundry," creativity will always win.  Or, in other words, creativity is just another means of procrastination :) 

This whole post is really just a way of saying that I'm working on a new project and rather than doing laundry a couple of weeks ago, I sketched a new pattern I wanted to try :)

I liked it enough to draw a digital pattern and sew up a beta (or more realistically for the computer geeks among us, an alpha) version.  I really like it overall, and it fits well, but there are a few small things I need to tweak.  I already drafted a new version with the changes and am hoping to get a second beta version finished tonight.

I drafted the pattern (called the "Nell" after my friend's little girl) to be a top, tunic or dress with long or short sleeves and an optional collar.  I may change a few things for the final version, but it works for now.  Hopefully, if the next few versions look okay I will ask for testers in a few weeks.  But like the procrastinator I am, it may be more like a few months!  I guess it just depends on how clean my house is :)

How about you?  Are you a creative procrastinator, or are you one of those people I'm always jealous of who manage to be creative while living in a perfect, always company-ready house :)  I would love for you to leave a comment.  Hopefully at least one of you will make me feel slightly less insane for enjoying living in the midst of chaos!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

making an izzy out of knit

Many of people have asked if the Izzy top can be made from a knit and if any changes need to be made to the pattern.  The answers are yes ... and yes :)  This top was made entirely from knit using the original pattern pieces with one small modification.  The back pattern piece needs to be cut on the fold after removing 3/8" from the center edge. 

I used an old t-shirt from one of my boys so I didn't have to hem anything :)  I was even able to use the original side seams since it was almost the perfect width.  Then I cut a binding piece for the neckline (I would make it narrower if I did it again) and knit cuffs using this tutorial for the sleeves.

Mae and I spent the day outside since this is the first actual nice day we've had this year!  I think the animals enjoyed getting out of the house too :)

Skirt - Upcycled T-shirt
Bodice - Jersey knit from Joann's

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

patterns now available on craftsy!

Due to some unforeseen issues with Dropbox, I will be uploading my patterns to Craftsy from now on.  I'm also working on getting all the existing patterns over there too, starting with the Izzy Top.  Here is the link for my Craftsy store.  Don't worry, the existing patterns are still free :)  I had intended to put my patterns on Craftsy for a while anyway but just never got around to it, and this turned out to be the push I needed :)

If you are curious what happened with dropbox, this blog post should give you a little more info.  But in a nutshell, they found a security risk and decided the logical course was to disable all links without informing anyone until after the fact.  I have no idea who made that decision, but I have a feeling the repercussions will be more than the company bargained for!

Monday, May 5, 2014

this really is what I do for fun :)

I am a total geek and proud of it!  And if anyone doubts that, this post should convince you pretty quickly :)  I love numbers and I love sewing ... so as you can imagine, I really, really, really love numbers about sewing.  Oh, and I love graphs too :)  I could create a graph for every single question on the survey, but I promise to limit it to just a few for those of you who don't speak math geek!  And just as a warning, if math sounds something like this for you, you might want to skip to the last paragraph :)

Just kidding!  I tried to keep the post picture heavy and math light since I know not everybody (or if I'm being honest, almost nobody!) enjoys math the way I do :)

But before I dive into the numbers (and totally forget to say this!) the winners of the fabric giveaway are Elizabeth, Ashley, Chris and Laura.  Congratulations! I sent you ladies an email.

And on to the highlights:
  • 73% of you are interested in a year long series about building a wardrobe from scratch.  This statistic will probably be the one that mostly directly determines the direction of the blog starting in September with some of the other preferences mixed in :)
  • Free patterns (no surprise there!) and tutorials are the current favorite topics on the blog ... this goes for me as well!
  • And, again no surprise, free patterns and tutorials are what you want to see most in the future.  Although there was a positive response to many other topics as well.

  •  This one did kind of surprise me :)  When forced to choose just one, more people selected tutorials than free patterns as their first choice for a blog topic.

  •  This next graph didn't tell me much other than almost any future blog post would be fine.  I guess I'll just have to do a little bit of everything :)

And just for fun, a little about you :)
  • It seems most of you are somewhere in the middle as far as sewing level with only two of you classifying yourselves as absolute beginners.

  • Surprising, most people don't care if there is advertising on a blog - only 7% hate it.  It's nice to know that is an option if I need to make some money in order to keep offering free patterns :)
  • The majority (52%) of you have no preference about blog link-ups, while 37% of you like them and 11% do not
  • 40% like a schedule for posts, 5% do not, and again the majority has no preference
  •  Only 1% of you feel that a blog has to post more than 3 time per week to engage your interest; although 38% do feel that a blog should post at least once a week
  • More than 50% of you visit sewing blogs daily or more often, and only 6% read them once a week or less.  It seems we just can't get enough of sewing :)

So, if you actually read this far, I'm sure you're wondering what any of this means for you.  Well, not much at the moment :)  For the time being, I will (in the words of Dory) just keep swimming, but I do intend to go in a slightly new direction in the fall.  I plan to keep the things everyone likes most (free patterns, tutorials) and hopefully add some new stuff too.  I hope you keep reading until then :)